MSN.GR Meetup

I have to say, if I got to name what I like to do most in my job at Microsoft then it is stuff like this. Yesterday we had a meetup at the Microsoft office in Athens to with Greek bloggers to talk about the upcoming release of MSN.GR. Typically we will talk a bit about what it is that we have been working on over the last few weeks and months to then open it up the a discussion about what people think about it, what they like, what they don’t like or what might be missing in their opinion etc.

MSN.GR

And I can hear you say ‘portals are dead’ and ‘why do we need another portal’ but I genuinely believe there is a place and an audience for sites like this, and I also believe that with this concept of the more ‘social portal’ that we try to build (where there is a deep integration between the MSN content and the Windows Live sharing and communication services) we have a product that differentiates from the competition as well.

Valia, Giorgos & Thodoris

Obviously the part that interests me most of all is the discussion piece after showing the product. I quite enjoyed the discussion and I think some valid points were raised, all making for a pretty engaging conversation.

If there’s one thing that I didn’t like about this then it is the fact that I took quite a bit more photos than I uploaded to the Flickr set, but let’s just say my already poor photographic skills seemed to have let me down a bit yesterday ;) Oh and yeah, both Stefanos and myself tried to arrange for a Tweetup later that night but we didn’t get to eventually. Nevertheless, great time in Athens, hope I can be back soon. Thanks all for joining us – to be continued.

Kinepolis meetup

My old friends at Kinepolis invited me over for a blogger meetup 2 weeks ago, something they had set up together with Proximity BBDO (represented by the one and only ‘Druppels’) and Adhese. I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but given the fact I worked at Kinepolis myself for some 7 years I had more than enough reasons to go check it out.

I don’t really want to cover the content of the meeting (as others have done that already) but I was mostly interested in the approach of the company towards the community. And the commentary after.

Kinepolis
Photo by Dipfico

I once wrote a post called ‘not for sale’ and featured it in my side navigation since then. And then people started asking me why I don’t like advertising on my blog… I tell them to read it again, it’s not what I’m saying. The whole social media approach, the whole thing about being more consumer friendly, about engaging in a conversation, … is something that needs to be in your soul so to speak. A lot of companies get some recognition because ‘they get it’ whereas they just started using social media technologies to do one way communications. Sigh. I like genuine innovation, genuine openness… and yes even when you could argue about why it didn’t come any sooner.

Kinepolis is a company that gets it, maybe late but they showed me they do. Why? Because of the genuine openness and honesty of the conversation we had with the Kinepolis management during the meetup, including their CEO. The 20-some bloggers present at the event will probably agree, when was the last time you had such an open conversation with the CEO of a company the size of Kinepolis? Very curious to see how this will evolve, I guess that’s where I still can go wrong. At least the goodwill is there…

Looking at the commentary after the event I realized even more people don’t seem to make the distinction between ‘I approve how they did this’ and ‘I will now believe whatever they say without thinking’. Did I buy everything they said at that event? Did I think they are now all saints? No. But they did show in a very honest way what their plans are and how they want to have this conversation. I liked that a lot. And for the naysayers, if you really care about this just tell Adhese about it and there’s no reason why you couldn’t be part of this.

There were only 2 things I missed really, one being some more food and the other one a demo of the big screen gaming they do because I always loved that. There’s really nothing that beats playing COD or other on a 24 meters wide screen in full THX Dolby Surround sound ;)

Live Mesh blogger meetup

Not long after we organized our blogger meetup in the Coach and Horses to chat about the new release of Windows Live there’s yet another blogger meetup organized by Microsoft at the same location – this time for Live Mesh and cloud computing. Here are the details:

Where: The Coach and Horses pub, 29 Greek Street, Soho, London W1V 5LL
When: 11th December from 6pm to 8pm (and onwards for anyone that fancies it)
Who’d enjoy this? Anyone who’s interested in discussing cloud computing with two of the leaders from Microsoft

These 2 leaders are Angus Logan (Sr Technical Product Manager on Live Services) and Jeff Hansen (GM for Live Mesh) will be present to discuss about cloud computing and Live Mesh for all that are interested. Steve Clayton and Steve Lamb have all the information on his blog and here’s the link to the wiki for signup in case you would like to join.

I won’t be there myself unfortunately but if you are interested in cloud computing and you’re in London that evening I would think this is a good meetup to go to.

Blogger meetups

Little over a week ago, I was part of 2 blogger meetups I wanted to highlight here as well. The first meetup was in Stockholm during SIME and was co-hosted by Microsoft and SIME. We both agreed it would be a great idea to have some small side-event during one of the breaks, a dialogue between the bloggers present at the event, both from the audience and speakers. It was a bit unfortunate the only room available was a small cinema theatre, forcing it a little into an audience vs. stage setup but I enjoyed the meetup nevertheless and only wished we had more time. I was happy Thomas Crampton was willing to moderate the mini-event and that also Joi Ito and Dave Sifry agreed to participate, and of course that so many people turned up for it.

Untitled
Click on the image for the video, only part 1 available but will update once that changes.

I like the way Johan Ronnestam described it on his blog:

“Absolutely one of the better takeouts from this years SIME (so far) even though I think it could have been more of a meetup rather than a ‘listenup’.”

I think we had a great set of topics that we wanted to talk about with all the bloggers (personal vs corporate blogging, sponsored content, blogosphere dead or not, …) but we only got halfway through it. Definitely a format I will try to replicate at other events since most of the feedback was really positive. And Joi, thanks for the nice photo!

The day after we had a blogger meetup in London with the purpose to have a discussion around the new version of Windows Live that was announced the night before the meetup. I had organized the event in the Coach & Horses (Soho) which was a nice location for it, although some wifi improvements are in place ;) We had Ryan Gavin and Jeff Kunins over from the Windows Live team and Redmond to give a rundown of the new stuff which sparked quite a bit of discussion so that was quite fun as well.

WLMeetup

The photo above was taken during the dinner after the presentation, but as you can see the discussion is still pretty much ongoing. From left to right you see Scott Lovegrove, Chris Overd, Neville Hobson and Ryan Gavin. Also present were Paul Walsh, Robin Wauters, Pieter Dom and Jamie Tomson. Too bad not everyone who accepted made it to the evening, but we’re definitely going to organize evenings such as this one again on several different topics so hopefully they can join us next time. In case you are interested in joining discussions like this, let me know in the comments or shoot me an email at kris [at] crossthebreeze [dot] com.